Emails sent in response to the Councils call for comments on the THFC bid
|to Cllr Caliskan Mark Bradbury and copied to Cllrs Thorp, Lemonides and Yusuf|
Dear Cllr Caliskan
The Tottenham bid for Whitewebbs Park
I have read the documents issued by Enfield Council (The marketing updates and press release among many others) and the document issued by THFC / ENIC, several times over and very carefully.
There are a lot of questions unanswered by the Council and THFC/ENIC
1. Why does Tottenham want so much of Whitewebbs Park?
2. How does changing 40 acres of grassland into semi industrial plastic reinforced hybrid pitches contribute to the environmental diversity and a reduction in the climate emergency?
3. How does the creation of a elite women’s and girls’ professional soccer facility contribute to wider public access?
4. A huge amount of earth will have to be bulldozed to create flat playing areas. How much will be moved? Looking at the contours it could be 100,000 cubic metres or more.
5. How much sand and gravel will be imported to the site for pitch construction – 30,000 cu metres?
6. How much plastic will be stitched into the earth to reinforce the pitches? SISgrass mentions 2600 20cm stitches per square metre for some of their pitches. That is an awful lot of plastic. Some talk of it as only be 3, 5 or7 per cent of the pitch but 3 percent of 40 acres is a huge amount. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-tkBkJ89Uw for an impression of what is involved.
7. Will THFC /ENIC be allowed to build the huge earth barriers and fences in Whitewebbs that characterise the existing training ground?
8. Which areas of Whitewebbs Park as it is currently constituted, Woodland and golf course, will the public be able to access on a daily basis once a lease has been signed ?
9. The original 999 year lease specified public access for the whole park. Has this been changed? If so, when and who by?
We have to work from the information available. Enfield had promised to show the bids to the Stakeholders but didn’t. The THFC/ENIC document is little more than a PR piece with virtually no real information. As there is only one bid up for approval I cannot see that there is an issue of commercial confidentiality. The only possible reason is that one party or the other is ashamed of the content.
Some other points of concern
1. THFC/ENIC need about 40 acres for pitches and facilities, they are bidding for 140 acres (Everything except the woodland).
2. Nowhere is there an explicit guarantee of public access to the old golf course. (There are no rights of way). No mention of parking.
3. Subject to planning we might get a cafe and toilets.
4. All the main entrances to the park will be controlled by THFC/ENIC.
5. 19th Century Parkland is not the same as a public park. It is a private landscaped area for the benefit of the owners.
6. Looking at the map for the North End of the park. The bid includes all the land and gardens around Whitewebbs House (Toby Carvery) including the Lake and the North Lodge entrance.
7. When looked at closely the map in the THFC/ENIC brochure and the lack of guarantees about access make it clear that the bid is for a private country estate with clearly marked and controllable borders.
8. To my mind, on the evidence available, the plan is to take over the carvery, with its long lease, turn it into a hotel / hospitality facility for visiting teams and run the whole park as the THFC/ENIC country estate. This would complement any plans for American Football facilities in the area as indicated on the Enfield plan proposals
9. From the THFC/ENIC perspective this would be a good business plan. They would get a large amount of land very cheaply that would give them room for expansion and a high degree of privacy. The people of Enfield will lose access to open space and beautiful recreational land.
10. Nearly 100 years ago the Council bought the estate for the people of Enfield. It looks as if our present council wants to sell off this land to a multi billion dollar corporation based in the Bahamas tax haven. THFC is owned by ENIC. The distinction between leasing and buying is an irrelevant smokescreen in this instance.
I have received copies of the many letters sent to you and others in the authority which make convincing arguments against proceeding with this bid. An image of more signatures to the letter sent to you last is attached.
The whole process from beginning to end has been seriously flawed, the people of Enfield have been fed gross misrepresentations of the facts. Promises have not been kept and full information has not been made available.
I urge you to think again about this whole venture. Its implementation goes against so many of your publicly stated policies and will deprive generations to come of the opportunity to enjoy space, clean air and nature.
The stakeholders and community groups would be very happy to discuss ways that Whitewebbs can be managed and developed for the benefit of all.
Chair of the Friends of Whitewebbs Park
A copy of the letter sent to Cllr Caliskan, signed by approx. 200 park users and Friends of Whitewebbs
The Friends and Users of Whitewebbs Park
24th July 2021
Dear Councillor Caliskan
We understand that you will be making a decision about proceeding with the bid for Whitewebbs Park shortly.
Under your leadership the Council has done everything possible to avoid full and proper consultation with the people of Enfield about whole of the marketing and bidding process.
Well informed and knowledgeable stakeholder groups have not been consulted despite promises from yourself and senior officers that this would happen.
Grossly misleading statements have been made and despite formal protests these have not been corrected.
Following the early protests about your proposals and the period of lockdown thousands of Enfield citizens from all over the borough have discovered and explored this park, enjoying access to space, beauty, nature and peace in this unique setting.
The whole park was acquired by an enlightened council 90 years ago for the people of Enfield. Times change as do the leisure needs of people. What does not change is the need for some open space where we can recharge our minds and bodies.
It is abundantly clear that the bid from THFC /ENIC has nothing to contribute to the general health and well being of the people, the biodiversity of landscape and natural life of the area. It will benefit a multi billion pound company registered in the Bahamas and provide for the needs of a narrow select group. All the evidence points to THFC/ENIC wanting to create a large private country-house estate and semi industrialised training ground. This is a reversion to the enclosure movement of old, where the rich and powerful deprived the common people of their few rights and privileges.
We urge you to consider what you are doing. We are all totally opposed to this bid and urge you to reject it.
Consult properly with the stakeholders, a group that contains a wide range of experience and expertise. With them create a park for the community that will be a lasting legacy of your administration for the mental, physical, social and natural health of Enfield. There are sensible business models that will provide financial support for the running of the park and community stakeholders would welcome the opportunity to explore these with you.
As the financial pressure of a “loss making” golf course has been removed there is no requirement to pursue this bid. There is time to think, consult with the community and rethink.
Response sent to Mark Bradbury following receipt of his email concerning the THFC bid
|to Mark Bradbury|
Thank you for your email. The simplest thing would be for you to show stakeholders, including the Friends of Whitewebbs, a copy of the bid.
27th Feb 2021 from Mark Bradbury
As you are aware 6 bids were received of which 1 was subsequently withdrawn. The process has therefore effectively shortlisted the proposals to 5 for us, we do not consider there is a need to shortlist further. As stated above the project has been on hold since March 2020 and we will engage with members and stakeholders sharing details of all 5 of the bids before selecting a preferred partner.
I cannot accept that the very limited information in the Council statements and the carefully worded bit of PR from THFC/ENIC amounts to “details”.
Our judgements and comments are, therefore, based on the very limited information you and THFC/ENIC supply.
The document from THFC/ENIC is carefully crafted to combine certain specific information with vagueness.
The map in this section shows that the bid is for the entire golf course and some additional areas. All the land East of a line from the North Lodge entrance right down to where Beggars Hollow connects with Clay Hill is included.
The whole width of the roadway/path from the North Lodge Gate to the back of Whitewebbs House is included. The pathway from this road to Beggars Hollow car park is not included and remains the responsibility of Enfield Council.
THFC/ENIC will control all the entrances to the golf course and the parkland including the Lake and the more formal garden areas surrounding it. It will also control all car parks. The only entrances to the woodlands under council control will be small gateways on Whitewebbs Lane and Flash Lane.
There is no commitment to allowing public access to any part of the leased area save the cafe and the toilets. The document refers to the restoration of 19th Century parkland but this is not to be confused with municipal or public parks. Lords of the Manor own parkland associated with country houses as do many private companies and landowners. 19th Century parkland is private with handsome trees, hunting and grazing cattle, not accessible to the public. I make an exception for the National Trust but that is not what we are talking about.
There are, as you well know, no statutory rights of way within the golf course though many of us have wandered over and around the course for many years during quiet periods.The roadway through the course may be a right of way but that is not clear.
The THFC/ENIC commitment to investing in statutory footpaths is, therefore, meaningless. The Public access map does show an intention to upgrade the bridleway to the north of the leased area but I suspect this is more to do with security than public access. The map is incomplete as regards footpaths in the woodland area.
The Council’s marketing criteria says:
“If a lease was agreed which included the woodland, this would only have been considered if the use was appropriate, enhanced public access, and ensured the maintenance of the woodland and public rights of way and bridleways.”
The proposed lease does not include the woodland. There is, therefore, no requirement for THFC/ENIC to enhance footpaths in the woodland and they make no specific promise to do so.
There is the promise to, subject to planning, “redevelop the Southern Clubhouse and cafe to provide significantly improved food, beverage and toilet facilities.” There is no mention of additional facilities – rest areas, seating, picnic spots, play areas, community function rooms, school facilities. Just cafe and toilets and a few signs.
Other points raised by park users.
The bid information from THFC/ENIC indicates that it plans to take over the whole of the leased area for its own purposes. No doubt the Toby Carvery with its long outstanding lease will be incorporated as a hotel or facility for visiting teams and secure fencing, security guards and earth barriers will exclude all but the select few from the leased area.
These statements appear in the marketing material:
The council’s aim of leasing Whitewebbs Park Golf Course is for the park to be rejuvenated and to be used in a way that benefits the wider local community.
A more inclusive range of activities – the acceptable proposed use must be outdoor leisure or sport led. Proposals with no element of outdoor leisure use will not be considered.
Please explain how an elite training centre for girls and women’s football represents a more inclusive range of activities.
The much vaunted sports turf academy looks like a possible rebranding of what is currently offered at Capel Manor College.
How many fte permanent jobs will be created?
How will the creation of 40 acres of plastic reinforced football pitches and the associated earth movement (100,000 + cubic metres) benefit biodiversity and the climate emergency?
What is the £200,000 a year saved by closing the golf course being used for?
What is a Habitat Bank and how will this benefit Whitewebbs Woods?
For want of any further information this bid looks like THFC/ENIC getting everything it wants. The people of Enfield lose 140 acres of open space, bought for them nearly 100 years ago which they have discovered and enjoyed. In return they get the possibility (subject to planning) of a better cafe, toilets and some signposts. Whoever did this deal needs to reveal all the details or think again.
As you can see, there are many unanswered questions arising from this bid. Without answers to these and many other questions it would be irresponsible to accept this bid and, I believe, a dereliction of duty to the people of Enfield.The Council is the custodian of this land not an agent for multi billion dollar tax haven corporations.
If you can supply full and detailed answers to the questions and points raised I will pass them on to the Friends of Whitewebbs and the wider Whitewebbs community.
From Mark Bradbury
On Mon, 12 Jul 2021 at 09:51, Mark Bradbury <Mark.Bradbury@enfield.gov.uk> wrote:
As set out in my email the Council is only in a position to decide either to proceed with the Tottenham Hotspur proposal or not to.
Other bidders have therefore been informed that the Council will not be pursuing their interest. We do not therefore intend to share their bids on the grounds of commercial confidentiality.
The information on the Tottenham Hotspur website and the Councils website represents a summary of the Tottenham Hotspur Proposal. What further details do you require at this stage. Much of the design detail will follow through public consultation and discussion with the planning department through the planning process. As advised the Council will not enter into a lease unless and until planning consent is granted.
Mark Bradbury MRICS, FRSA, FIoEE (he/him)
Director of Property and Economy